Sunday, August 23, 2009

Corby and China and Capitalism

More than 1,300 children have been poisoned by a manganese factory in central China, the state media reported today . Tests of children living near the smelter showed that 60-70% had unhealthy levels of lead in their blood. Blood of 1,354 local children was found to have more than 100mg of lead per litre, the limit considered safe. The exposure of mass lead contamination in is the second case in as many weeks, prompting accusations that the authorities have failed to adequately regulate toxins that build up over time. The plant reportedly opened in May 2008 without the approval of the local environmental protection bureau within 500 metres of a primary school, a middle school and a kindergarten. Many poor districts ignore environmental regulations to attract investment.

Nothing similar to that is likely to happen in the UK , is it ? Or would it ?

Children who blamed their disabilities on their mothers' exposure to a "toxic soup" before their birth today won their High Court case against Corby borough council . Mr Justice Akenhead ruled that the council had been liable for the defects in the children, now aged between nine and 22. The victims suffered disabilities, ranging from missing or underdeveloped fingers to deformities of the feet, in the early stages of foetal development.

The judge criticised the council for a “dig and dump” approach to disposing of the waste from the former British Steel plant. He accepted the evidence of experts who said 15 years of poorly regulated “muck shifting” had polluted the town’s environment. The judge said: “There was a period between 1983 and 1997 in which Corby borough council was extensively negligent in its control and management of the sites.”

The council had denied it had been negligent and refused to accept there was a link between the work and the deformities. Lawyers argued the mothers had been exposed to an "atmospheric soup of toxic materials" created by the redevelopment of the town's former steel works between 1985 and 1999. Lawyers said the Corby scandal was the biggest child poisoning case since thalidomide.

Chris Mallender, the council chief executive, said “We are not yet at the point of saying sorry because nobody yet is responsible.”

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